Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 : On Reflections and Reflexions

As time comes to another superficial end called New Year eve and then start it again with the new year, it calls to attention for us all to REFLECT on what this last 365 days has been, not that we can do anything now to change it. Personally, I do not believe in waiting for an 'auspicious' break, superficial or otherwise, to reflect but seems like the world is intoxicated with resolutions, before the first glass of bubbly is consumed.

2010 could be a wonderful year for some; an average non-eventful for others or an annus horribilis for the rest. It sure has its fair share of highlights, lowlights and nolights! From financial rollercoasters, through political unheavals, to human achievements in science, medicine and behaviour.

We chose the man who Wiki-exposed it all as the Most Intriguing Man of the Year; we afforded ourselves lifestyles which we cannot afford; and we continue to see love perpectuated through one another, like Kate and William or a couple at the Registrar of Marriage - straight, gay and everything in between.

However, the question remains on the fact of WHAT DID YOU DO IN 2010?

What value did you add?
Did you make someone else's life better? Happier?
Did you make yours?

We go through the passage of time, without the choice of it.
We somehow allowed stimulus around us to incent us to reflexively react to situations, whether it is to buy something; to judge someone or to change jobs.

Because they are there.
Because they are appealing.
Because the grass is always greener on the other side of the septic tank.
Because it portrays itself as HOPE.

2010 for me has been a good year, because I yield it so.
However, external factors like my dad's cancer is outside the realms of anyone's control.
As I kept promising to write a book called the TWO BUCKET SYSTEM.
This squarely falls in Bucket One, things that we canNOT change.
However, we have Bucket Two, things that we can do to Bucket One.
Well, we made him comfortable, brought him to Taipei, gave him the best medical attention we can afford.

What is the best thing that came out of this?
The family coming together more closely, regardless of what the reason may be.

As I always said, the difference between a human being and an animal is the ability to make excuse for everything that they want to do! In this case, for a good reason too!

What else in 2010?
Career-wise it was interesting.. I finally got out of the Director-ship into now a Senior Director-ship.
I have decided many years ago that titles does not matter anymore.
Beyond financial benefits, it is happiness at what one does is more critical.

I re-connected with some friends.. some by 'divine' intervention!
I found some new acquaintances - some good, some bad amd many in between.

On RELFLEXION, I went and bought a car.
Without much consideration for quality but becasue I was there!

On REFLECTION, I have not done enough.
I am of the opinion that if one does not REFLECT enough, one is more REFLEXIVE!

REFLECTION allows one to think, and more importantly one to learn, from mistakes and from successes. More importantly, one learns. But to do what?

Learn to make others happy and in turn hope to make yourself so.

As we again pass this timeline of 2010 into 2011, we are given a new opportunity to learn to REFLECT more and REFLEX less.

So the question as the clock strikes 12 tonight and before your carriage turns into a pumpkin will be : WHAT WILL YOU DO IN 2011?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

More for Less: Leveraging e-marketing for more effective results

More for Less: Leveraging e-marketing for more effective results

(Original text of article found in Singapore Institiute of Management's (SIM) TODAY'S MANAGER (June-July 2010) issue

e-marketing has been around for some time but its effectiveness is now only beginning to be realised. With social media and more technologically advanced tools, we can do more effective marketing by studying the behaviour of clients and consumers rather than sending 1 million e-mails to have 10 opened.

With the advent of a seamless networked world, e-marketing – marketing of products and services over the Internet – seems not just the right thing to do but a critical strategy to stay competitive.

Does that mean we should all rush into e-marketing? The answer is, “It depends!”

It is of course gratifying to see one’s business information, products and services up on a Web site with the promise of getting millions of eyeballs around the world. The Internet can make a small business a global business by allowing it to be in front of a global audience.

But e-marketing is still marketing. Marketing, whether with an “e” or not, has to be relevant to the audience.

The Internet has been transformed into a tool to drive innovation through collaboration. Businesses have leveraged on the explosive growth of the Internet and Web 2.0 technologies to derive better results from marketing activities. e-marketing has gone through drastic transformation, from the early days when marketers dabbled with putting up a Web site and struggled to keep the information current; to the next stage of enabling an e-commerce engine to facilitate transactions; and to the present where marketers consider how they can effectively use of Facebook and social networks to drive more returns from marketing activities. Many are also using social networking sites to solicit feedback about their products and services and gather information to influence future product development.

The key point to remember is that the basics of marketing still apply. Understanding customer needs and answering them is still the primary driving force in making a sale. The advantage of the e-marketing engine is that it allows us to do it faster and cheaper. The catch, though, is you have to do it right.

Who to sell what to and when

Sending an eDM (electronic Direct Mail) is NOT the ultimate end, even though many list providers would incentivise with bulk discounts on increased number of names rented. The ultimate end of a marketing activity is sales. Why send out something about a product or service if you are not keen in selling it? Making sure you send information to the people who need it when they need it will increase sales.

More important is to recognise that the e-version of a sales catalogue has greater cost and time-to-market advantages especially if the direct mail campaign is to be repeated, or information about product or service benefits is to be changed in different campaigns to address different target audiences, for example, technical users vs a business audience.

The efficiency of e-marketing, however, is a different story. The effectiveness of e-marketing is not about increased coverage and costs of eDMs but has to start with the right success factors, not about just how many eDMs were sent.

One of the advantages of e-marketing which does not surface frequently is the advantage of institutional memory. All information available can be used repeatedly for new marketing campaigns; repackaged to address a different customer set and also be integrated into other parts of a new campaign with relative ease.

Many organisations and marketers do not leverage an integrated approach to re-using information. Many projects are developed to create more or less the same type of information because there is no process or system to manage this 'knowledge' repository.

E-measurements : Truth or fluff?

An eDM may cost $1,000 to develop and can be sent to as many people as you have e-mail addresses. Comparing this with the production cost of even $1 per DM piece makes eDM a worthwhile investment. However, this is not the truth of measurement because sending does not mean reaching. Reaching does not mean opening. Opening does not mean reading. Reading does not mean clicking. Clicking does not mean buying.

To ensure the end-in-mind is to sell more things to more people more often for more money, one has to focus on how to communicate with the right people with the right message through the right channel at the right time. If one’s product is at least to be given a chance to be successful, one should look at the audience you are communicating to by segmentation, for example, by industry, types of audience (C-level, IT managers, and to certain degree, gender depending on the products). From there decide on a list and measure receive rate (percentage of non-bounced email); open rate (open over received); click rate (click over open) and lastly buy rate (buy over click).

With this simple understanding, you can decide on the effectiveness of a list you rented or tweak the relevancy of messages (price or value) and begin building categories of audiences for future e-marketing activities with the intent to improve efficiency and yield better ROI.

This should also change the model of business between marketers and list vendors, moving from list rental to pay-per-lead model. This therefore forces the list vendors to ensure that they have the best lists and uses it to prove that the quality of their lists is what they said it is.

The upcoming trend in e-marketing is behavioural tracking and management. Within the confines of privacy rules, this is a very exciting and important aspect of how business goals can be achieved through profiling and living up to giving the customers what they want in a timely manner.


The question that needs to be answered before deciding on e-marketing is how committed are you to maintaining the infrastructure. Yes, you can outsource the hosting. You can even outsource the marketing in utilizing search engines etc. But the information, the plan, and the execution that is relevant to your business cannot be closer to anyone else than to your organization.

Many organizations rushed into setting up Web sites and the information stays the same from the day it was created, 10 years ago. The worst case is that the Web site is not even up because the ISP that the job was outsourced to during the dot-boom era has gone out of business. The sad part of this is many businesses think they have entered the foray of e-marketing with this. True, but for the wrong reasons and it erodes the brand. Couple this with Internet user behaviour of short attention span and spoilt for choice, returning to your site may be something that will not happen ever again, that is losing a prospective customer forever.

Some organizations continue to test the privacy rules of countries. Most did it without understanding of what it is. Spamming is still a prevalent problem. This again brings us back to the argument about sending eDMs as a measurement and not about selling.


The advent of e-marketing also allowed companies to save costs through below the line marketing in the form of readiness. Many successful organizations include enablement of their sales force – around the world – through training and briefing on the Internet.

However, this requires investment in media creation and course creation. In line with institutional memory, these assets can be used and re-used, impacting hiring schedule and providing flexibility to the recipients to learn on-demand, where and when they can.

What is even better is that it can track who has taken what course and for how long he/she went through the course and even take online quizzes and provide feedback. This can apply to 10 or 10,000 without increasing costs.

With this, the sales force will be more ready than previously to provide the necessary information to customers, expediting the sales cycle. Surely, this is a good ROI for the business.

Serve yourself

Self-service has been introduced in many forms. ATMs to replace bank counters, automated phone service through voice-recognition and now information search on portals and some even offer customers to configure their own products and price. This is all good from an efficiency angle. However, it takes away the human touch.

E-marketing provides information availability across the globe. Information is available across the globe, 24x7, 365 days a year. The challenge is that it has to be available 24-hours; in all languages; meets all local requirements, and at the same time open to scrutiny, in an accelerated manner.

Any problem, no matter how small, will become a global problem in no time. A wrong update may force your company to sell a product for $2.50 although you intended to key in $250.

That is part of the bad and the ugly.

There is definitely goodness in providing self-service. If it is done well. A good self-service must start from understanding customer needs – languages, ability, relevancy. It must be backed up by escalation processes to help, which need to be operating around the clock. This goes back to the infrastructure requirements we talked about earlier.

When done well, e-marketing becomes an avenue to delight customers. It becomes a way to drive effectiveness and efficiency. It becomes a framework for growth globally.

e-tools: What are available

E-tools abound today. Some are good, some so-so, some bad. But it depends on what you want to do.

In Website tracking, one can use free tools available on the Internet to track traffic. You can outsource the task to a gamut of Web hosting companies or e-marketing agencies. You can also use applications now available on the Cloud, from Web site publishing to e-commerce engines.

Social media has sprung to the forefront of discussion in recent years. Social media can be used to provide a view into one’s social behaviour that may be of consequence in closing a deal. Examples are often repeated of how commenting about the soccer game of the son of a client has helped to open doors to his office. Development of social media for e-marketing is still at its infancy and there is little concrete data about its usage and effectiveness.

Another important aspect of e-marketing is behaviour tracking. Marketing is about behaviour management i.e. changing your decision to delay a purchase to one that buys now with promotion; changing the decision of not buy a competitive product to buy yours with better perceived benefits. Above all, it is about relationships. E-marketing is the very platform to make this possible.

The end-in-mind is to have an intuitive engine that will drive towards the holy grail of 1-on-1 marketing through ultimate relevancy based on the customer’s needs and time he/she needs it.

This can certainly be done through careful back-to-basic planning and mapping the right tools to reach the end-in-mind of ‘selling more things to more people more often for more money’ with the understanding of ‘communicating the right message to the right people through the right channel at the right time.’


Daniel Ng has been in IT marketing for over 25 years. He has worked with many multinationals in the IT industry. Currently based in Singapore, Daniel continues to build successful marketing programmes companies across the Asia Pacific region. Daniel is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cecilia, you are the shining model of living life to its fullest

Cecilia, you are the shining model of living life to its fullest

My dear Cecilia, when your request over Facebook for me to write your eulogy came on May 8th, I brushed it off as another one of your warped humour. We have all expected, as usual, that you will be well again!

I am usually not stuck for words but with this piece, I was lost.
Lost not because I have nothing to write but lost in how I should write it to embody such an incredible human being.

Then I found my answer.
It cannot be about grief.
If that, you in your inflated ego, will kick me in the butt!
It has to be YOU, a celebration of LIFE!

When I think of our first meeting, the only word that came to mind was SHOCK!
Your bright red hair began the series of shock for the short time we had together.

You shocked me into realization that life is about what you want it to be.
You shocked me into understanding that at the lowest point in your life after your mishap with your leg makes you look higher and be happier
You shocked me with your down to earth attitude where heaven can exist
You shocked me that friendship can be as thick as blood in a short period of time

In short, you shock the hell out of me... and brought me to the heaven of bliss, passion, contentment, love and no regrets.

My dear Cecilia, we are here to celebrate you!
Celebrate what you have done to our lives, albeit in your own shocking way, which you may or may not know.

I salute your intensity to realize your passion of being what other people cringe and may shun, a zoo-keeper.
I salute you for being yourself, in your glowing red-hair and your rainbow coloured outfits as a show of confidence and individualism which bred followership.
I salute you for your focus to make an imperfect leg walk better than anyone and the miles to chase your passion.
I salute you for your disposition - contagious, brightens-up-the-room, can't-get-enough-of.

I miss you for stopping to show us the way, so soon.
I love you everyday for what you have given us and taught us to be what we are born to be.

There. Done. And with no tears, for tears is never for my darling Cecilia.
Just laughters, smiles, happiness and love can only be worthy of your legacy.

Fare thee well my sweetie.

Till we all are together again.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Welcome to my box...

To many, the saying 'Life begins at 40' is just that, a saying.
However, to some, how you feel and thus how you look is within your hands.
To a few, that is a realization and acted on it!

In my passing of the last 47 plus years, I have heard of people making excuses for things that they like to do, far more t han making excuses for things that they do not like to do. Guess that is human.

In a quite recent school reunion, my 5-year old niece and true to the nature of 5-year-olds who speak their mind - a quality we lose as we grow older - asked my classmates how old they are. To the bemusement of a few of them who took to 'bullying' little girls came the answer :' Silly girl, we are your uncle's classmates. Therefore we are of the same age!' came the unexpected and rather to-the-heart reply : 'Then why do you look so old and fat!' (in relative to her uncle!)

This entry is by no means an account to show-off nor a guidance to shape-up.
It is merely a reflection of focusing on what you want to do, impacted by 'market' forces, and derived at the end-in-mind that you desire. Best of all, it is an account of what is possible. Impossible is nothing, says Adidas!

Well, as I passed 40 years old, with a rotund 38" waist and over 26% body fat, I fit into the usual mould of an UNCLE, AH PEK or PAKCIK. Gone are the days when I was called ABANG, KOR KOR or simply MISTER. The former salutation is by way of respect (for my coming of weight.. of age I mean.. as demonstrated by my imposing waistline!). The worst thing was I was readily accepting it!

Then came one fine day when my friends and I went island hopping in Phuket, pre-tsunami period in 2001.To their rather witty and sheepish question of whether I am wearing a swim trunk, my RASPUTIA-belly stood flacid and round over my not-so skimpy trunks, I knew they were telling the truth. They, knowing how I take to challenge like any hot-blooded Leos would, issued the challenge that by my next birthday - 12 months from the day - they wanted to see 6-pax! 6-pax to me was a dream which remained shy and hidden. I knew it was there but I also knew that it was cushioned by the layer called FAT!

I duly took up their challenge and engaged a personal trainer on my return to Singapore.
The beginning of the ordeal was painful, nonetheless.
One notable incident was when the Honorable David Levine, US Ambassador to Singapore at the time, asked if I was OK, seeing that I was walking like someone who has hernia. This was the week AFTER I started training.. tell me if you would not be walking like that!

A note to remember : Personal trainers comes in many shapes and forms. Some are just counters - do not show you what to do but only counts the reps you did. Some are tele-PT, meaning that they are on their phone sms'ing whoever all the time you are yelping for help. There are ones who cheats, who signs for you the sessions that you did not have so they can clock in more revenue. And of course there are those few that does it for the right reasons. I was unlucky to begin but ended up with a PT I call a friend for the last 8 years!

So, welcome to my box! What box is that?
Over 40!

To cut a very long story short, it is not impossible!
I called it the 3 + 2'D' regime.
What is that?
3 D : Discipline - I wake up at 5 AM daily to be at the gym at 6 AM. Drive - you MUST want to do it! You must have the end-in-mind.. beyond looking good and lastly Diet : You are what you eat. Best way is to cut off carbs for dinner. No carbs after 5!

The other 2 'D's?
Haha! Daniel and Din, my PT friend... (Hey, I m in Marketing!)

So I have had many queries of HOW to do it... Upon which I talk about my 3Ds. Many retorted - I love my donuts. I cant do away with Maggi noodles at 10pm etc etc. Well, you are after all what you eat. If you are comfortable having a donut around your waist, then indulge and be happy!

Lastly, do whatever you feel will make you happy.
As I started, I am sharing, not prescribing.

And do not cheat, buying a size bigger pants to have a relatively smaller (growing) waist is only for short term happiness!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

ULTIMATE HAPPINESS... The true end-in-mind of life and living

ULTIMATE HAPPINESS... The true end-in-mind of life and living

Many of us - yours truly included - tends to put things off, procrastinate. Excuse being, we will do it tomorrow. This is then cushioned by our human ability of making excuses for everything we want to do.. or in this case, not!

Now for a minute there ponder this. Why do we always think that there is a tomorrow? As the song goes.. 'If tomorrow never comes..', what would you do?

The greatest regret anyone can have is to be drawing our last breath and having it! Regret(s) that is!

Firstly, if the ultimate happiness is the end-in-mind, regrets must first be minimised or eliminated, or even better, not be created.

What are regrets?
Something that we want to do, hopeully in the creation of happiness, that we failed to, owing to whatever reasons.

So first, NO REGRETS.
Do not ever regret doing anything.
In my Bucket 1 and 2 discussion in earlier blog entries where Bucket 1 contain things that you canNOT change and Bucket 2, things that you have control over, you have every tool to cushion the impact of Bucket 1. Also to my earlier entries on THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HUMAN AND AN ANIMAL IS THE ABILITY TO MAKE EXCUSES FOR THINGS THEY WANT TO DO, brings me to the fact that if you have chosen to do what you want to do, then let that be the choice, good, bad or ugly as it may be. Live by the consequences. Do not for a minute think about what it could have been if you did not. (Well, that should already be part of the analysis BEFORE you did what you did)
Why? Because if you did it, you cannot go back in time and not do it. (Read : UN-doing something is not the same as NOT DOING it in the first place! Have you seen the crack on a broken porcelain plate glued back?). This SHOULD NOT give you an excuse not to make amends... a crack is still better than a broken plate, although not perfect.

Second.. DO IT NOW!
If you do not know if you are going to live tomorrow, why wait?
In my Facebook survey on 'If this is the last weekend that you know you have to live, what would you do?' came scary and sometimes sad answers like 'I will call my parents up and tell them how much I love them' and 'I will walk up to the person I have loved secretly for so long and tell him/her how I feel'. Hmmm... my supposition is a future date.. what if you die tomorrow... You will be drawing your last breath, with regret. And guess what, you cannot do anything about it!

Why wait to whatever future time to do it... DO IT NOW!

Money. Health. Relationship. All these are part of a myriad of components where happiness can be derived. It is however also a source of the opposite. Heard of the fight stemmed from will reading? Or two people being jealous of one another in the excuse of love.

HAPPINESS is the end-result, end-in-mind. It is not the components. If having money brings you happiness, then be it.. but will you be happy being the richest person when you are suffering from a disease? On the other hand, even if you are sick, can you not be happy?

Having someone to love who loves you - and at the same time (see why a delay in this case on either side will result in very different outcome) - is the most blessed thing one can have in a lifetime.. whether rich or poor, healthy or otherwise. But there are people who does not express their love.. and regret it... only to find out that the other person suffered from the same...

So what to do so that HAPPINESS is NOT DELAYED?
Well, if you have bought a birthday present today for someone whose birthday is 5 days down the road, give it now. It gives the recepient 5 days more of happiness... and you too! Tell your loved ones that you love them, NOW! Go out and have yourself that meal and start today and save up for the dream trip or simply take a day off to be with yourself.

What ever that brings you HAPPINESS... NOW!

Kuala Terengganu - a breath of fresh air... and GREAT food... at wonderful prices

I cannot remember when I was last in Kuala Terengganu (KT) but I can remember it was not a clean town, smelly and with clogged drains!

This Good Friday weekend changed all that.

We flew up from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and drive with the family to KT on the very scenic highway... bypassing (and not missing) Kuantan.

We stopped at Kemaman for the famed stuffed crab but was utterly disappointed. It was relatively expensive at RM7 each but was dry and unflavourful.

Finally, we arrived at KT, not before we stopped along the way to buy some SATAR, a sweet fish-chillie barbqued concoction, followed by boiled sweetcorn and peanuts. Yummy!

We rushed out to get my all time fav - keropok lekor.. You can have it steamed or fried...

Next we ended in KT and ate dinner at a HALAL Chinese seafood restaurant near the hotel (next to one called OCEAN). Food was good although the environment can be better. We saw many having steamboat. Guess it is their specialty, We celebrated dad's birthday there.

Next morning was a start of a marathon of food.. started with fried radish cake at Kampung Tiong with historic relevance (The first well where Chinese settlers get their water), Paung - the ever wonderful baked fresh bread, with or without the coconut fillings; nasi kerabu - vegetarian rice; pulut liper...

Lunch was at ERWINA nasi padang - RM92 for 10 people and lots of good food!

Dinner was from a stall beside the Batu Buruk beach road - from nasi lemak, nasi kuning, nasi kunyit and my ever favorite nasi dagang! YUMMY!!!!! All at RM2.50 each!

Next morning, we left early, with over 40 plates of roti paung in tow and over 60 pulut liper to buy the ever famous nasi dagang from Mak Ngah - a pink 2-story house on the way from KT to KL - 10 mins away from town center. Go early. The sweet old lady closes at noon!